Remembering Bob Aniello, my friend…..RIP

In family friends by Michael Michelini19 Comments

What do you do when a loved one dies? Scrolling through my upoming calendar A birthday reminder is popping up for my old friend Robert Aniello (believe its Oct 16), who committed suicide back in 1997. I don’t want to delete him from my contacts….I don’t want to forget him. So I think I will share this fresh thought of him here on my blog.

I knew BoB back in grade school in Hartford, CT. A really smart, witty kid, always had a smart joke as well as a homework expert! Think I met him in 5th grade, and he and I were in the same friend group up until we all graduated in 8th grade. While everyone else in our friend group went to the local public high school, he went to a suburb high school (parent’s had a second address there so he could attend there instead of the inner city high school) , and I went to a small catholic high school by myself as well. He and I both weren’t happy to be split up from the rest of our friends, and we shared that annoyance towards our parents at the time.

The apartment he lived in during weekdays to attend the suburb high school, and on weekends he would go back to his house in Hartford where we would try to meet up. But time would pass, and this was 1997, we were all in 2nd year high school (sophomore year) and he didn’t seem to be making many new friends in his high school. I remember him always telling me to let him know when I was hanging out, and that he was constantly bored. Here is an email in the beginning of sophomore year to demonstrate:

Date: Tue, 2 Sep 1997 15:40:09 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: testing

You spelled it right dude. I got it. Thanks for sending this to me, and if
you or Brian do anything this year, try your best to keep me included. I’m
always home by around 4 guaranteed, I’ze gots a ride home. But really, my
life sucks, nothing goes right for me, and well, I have been having some
difficulties, but hopefully, I am reorganizing my life, and things will start
going right for me.

And another email…where I was asking him if he had a copy of Dungeon Keeper (video game) so we could play online. I was really trying to spend time with him, but we were too far apart to get together, too young to drive, and I was really busy with my studies and sports in my catholic high school.

Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 16:06:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: not much either

Nah, my D still doesn’t work well, too bad. Anyway I talked to Bri last
night (Wed) and school sucks. This whole is a f-cking joke, and I have like
no real work, and three days a week I have two study halls in a row! So no
homework for me!

I can’t remember when he committed suicide, I think it was only a few weeks from these emails. I got a phone call from my friend Billy Castagno asking if I knew what had happened. I said, “what the hell are you talking about?”

He told me BoB had committed suicide, took his father’s handgun when no one was home and shot himself in the head. The funeral would be in a few days. ……

Dead at ONLY 16 years old…..

I remember the phone calls a day or two before it happened…..he was so bored he told me, I remember telling him about a girl I had a crush on, and he told me whats the point of pursuing her, that it wouldn’t last and blah blah. It was a bit strange to me to hear that from him….but I thought maybe he was trying to get me to get the girl out of my head and focus on school or whatever. I had no idea he was so close, and contemplating suicide…..

At the funeral, it was OPEN CASKET…..they had fixed or covered his head so that his face was visible….but it didn’t seem natural to me….friends from all over his lifetime attended…..crying….walking to see him at his casket….i remember getting past the casket and saying my condolences to his family…..his father was so angry! So angry…..

During the speeches, his father said he is so angry at his son for this, and told all his piers there this is the worst thing to do to a father or a family. He was furious…and bawling at the same time……the room was so silent.

BoB had requested in his suicide note to play the song “rocky raccoon” by the Beatles, and will paste the lyrics here:

Rocky Raccoon

Now somewhere in the black mining hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon
And one day his woman ran off with another guy
Hit young Rocky in the eye Rocky didn’t like that
He said I’m gonna get that boy
So one day he walked into town
Booked himself a room in the local saloon.

Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon’s bible
Rocky had come equipped with a gun
To shoot off the legs of his rival
His rival it seems had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy.
Her name was Magil and she called herself Lil
But everyone knew her as Nancy.
Now she and her man who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoedown
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said Danny boy this is a showdown
But Daniel was hot-he drew first and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner.

The doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said Rocky you met your match
And Rocky said, Doc it’s only a scratch
And I’ll be better I’ll be better doc as soon as I am able.

Now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon’s bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky’s revival.

It had played once, maybe twice….and it was just a strange feeling to me….I don’t know the meaning behind the song, or why he would request it to be played during his funeral….but I only think of him when I hear that song now…..

How I miss BoB…..he was such a smart kid, we all knew he would have programmed, designed, built something big in his lifetime….I lost touch with him in high school, tried to hold on……just wish he was still here with us today.

Note from a reader, Jan 1, 2011 I just got this email from a reader on the blog, correcting me on who was home during his death.

“Thank you for remembering; it still hurts us every day. Bobby’s sister just had a baby boy, Rob; life goes on. Btw-whole family was home, he not home alone. Very painful. Thanks again for keeping memory alive; best new year wishes!”

Remembering BoB, November 2016

I still haven’t forgotten this dude! Wrote up a letter for you today BoB, in my morning writing session:

Hi Bob,
I miss you man, your birthday passed a couple weeks ago – I still have the calendar reminder pop up for you. I remember how smart you were, always acing tests without breaking a sweat. And our trips to the mall, you – Magoo – and I. Trying to get the courage to approach girls there, haha. Buckland Mall was a nice mall to walk around though at least.

And the Risk games! And Magic cards. I remember how during a weekend sleep over at Billy’s, everyone else was out of the Risk game, just you and me. I pushed myself to take you out in a big campaign move. Got all of your countries but just couldn’t get that last one in India. You came back with turning in a set of cards and wiped me off the board.

I treasure these memories Bob. I miss you. But you live on through me, your inspiration, your humor, your intelligence. So, I hope I am living as best you can see me living.

Your friend for life,

Remembers Bob Aniello, April 2019

So today it isn’t his birthday but closer to my birthday. Many of my fond memories of childhood include Bob.

I miss you buddy. I can only think of what amazing things you could have achieved in this world. Maybe we could have been business partners on projects. You were so talented technically and also strategically.

Maybe could have made an even better Facebook. You were so talented. Maybe that was the problem- you were too smart for this world. I still remember our last phone call a few days before you left this Earth – I had a stupid crush on a girl in my high school and you said who really cares what is the goal. I should have recognized that as a sign. But you often helped me forget about stupid things I would stress about – you were a great friend.

Miss you BoB. I think you are there in the atmosphere reading this as I type it. You are an aura supporting me and my friends – you live on through us.

Remembering BoB on his birthday Oct 2019

Hi BoB,
Happy birthday. It is 2019 and I still think of your insights and chats way back in 1990s. You are not forgotten. I know with Brian and Andrew and others when I go back hometown we also bring you up. You were so talented. Our lives would definitely be different if you were still around – I am sure. You were just too smart for your time. Maybe if the internet existed then you’d have found your people and your niche more. I love you man, and I did learn a lot from you. I do hope your spirit is watching me write this and I do hope you found your happiness past this physical presence. Happy birthday bud BoB!

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  1. Quite depressing this post is. Evokes a lot of unspoken emotions towards death which I realize now is one topic I still could not muster dealing with despite experiencing death in the family at a young age. Or maybe, that’s the reason why I couldn’t deal with it – it came too early and that I’ve probably taken it lighter than I would’ve under normal circumstances.

    I don’t know but, this is forcing me to reflect on the choices I’m making right now. Which may be good, so thanks.

    1. Author

      hey mike,
      Yea…it is a depressing post…..I was looking at my calendar and saw his name there….it is hard every year…..but i say BoB lives inside me and my friends back home……he made me stronger.

      glad you got something from this, hope it helps others too

      1. These comments seem flippant toward the end–please don’t forget-our family is still here.

        1. hi M Farretta,
          There were some trolls on my blog a couple years ago….heckling me on every post “BillyBob” was the name he used to use – should I remove them? he was really annoying all of us….but i didn’t want to delete comments

          I still think about BoB throughout my day….he motivates me still.

  2. When some people come to realize their life is in the tank it becomes very easy to reflect on other people who had it worse. They think it makes them feel better.

    1. Author

      haha, Billybob,

      You just crack me up, sure I should get upset you are making stupid jokes about me and my best friend. Enjoy your life in Richmond, VA …….

  3. never really come across any of this in my life……

    billybob’s still trying to play the evil haha funny

    1. Author

      yea, this was a shock to all of my friends…….so young too…..

      really wish he was with us still today….i’m sure i’d have kept close contact with him.

  4. So long ago, wow. This may sound insensitive… but while it was very much a shocker and very sad when we were going through all that, looking back on it I can’t help but wonder if this actually had some positive impact on us growing up and becoming adults.

    Perhaps I would have become the same being i am today with or without that experience. But say if that hadn’t had such an impression on our young minds would we have grown up without the idea that it really doesn’t matter as long as we’re happy in life? just a thought.

    Maybe it wasn’t ultimately his happiness that made him do that to himself, noone would know. but as with every event, terrible or not, you have to strive to pull a lesson out of it. it happened to be what i thought about today.

    Rip bob, still think of him when i hear that damn song.

    1. Author

      hey Scott (skizot) ,
      I guess from that day at the funeral i told myself he is not dead, but will live his life through us….and in a way I believe that. I do think of him pretty often, and I feel his “aura” and I tell myself I strive for excellence to make up for his lost time here.

      But definitely do think his passing had an effect on us….he was close to us in our lives and it happened so drastically…..I know I am different today because of that event – of course I dont know how much different, as like you say its hard to know how much we’ve changed, but we definitely hve.

  5. Ha, ha, ha…Virginia is very quiet and pristine. But, I really do hope you are enjoying your new life in a third world shit-hole.

  6. I went to school with him at Batchelder from Kindergarten until he started going to Kennelly with you guys. My parents house is right near his parents house, I still drive by it all the time. After he switched schools, I lost contact with him – but was shocked when I heard the news from Scott that day. He was a great kid. Def is missed and will continue to be missed.

    1. Author

      hey Brian…..

      yea, I really think that changed all our friend’s mindset…….he still lives in each of us each day…..and that is how he lives on

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  8. I’m Jo, Bob’s sister and can’t believe all of you still remember him! I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel . . @Skizot – since nothing can be changed, I think its great that you might have gotten something positive out of it. I did (although I’d give it all back to have him here). I learned to not take life for granted, although I forget that lesson once in a while. Reading this page helps me to remember that.

    My first child, Rob, was named after Bob (Robert Michael), but it’d be too sad to call my son Bob, so I switched it to Rob.

    Minor clarifications, only our mom was home when he shot himself . . . and as for Rocky Raccoon, playing that song at the funeral was actually my idea (the funeral was supposed to explain the story behind the song, but they didn’t). There is no meaning behind the song, except that during Wilderness School, whenever Bob had a particularly hard challenge in front of him (i.e. scaling a rock wall), he start singing Rocky Racoon to get his mind off of it. Then I sang the same song to myself during Basic Training in the Army. It was a good memory and something I wish they had announced. (grin) Since that time, I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about trying to figure out the meaning behind that song . . . . there isn’t any 🙂

    thanks again 🙂
    Jo (Joey)

    1. Author

      Thanks for the clarification Jo!

      I still get teary eyed when I hear that Rocky Raccoon song… is fulfilling to know now the meaning behind it now!

      I got an email from one of your friends (she didnt leave a comment here) and said the whole family was home, ok good to have the facts straight now!

      Hope I can meet your son Rob one day, though I’m wayyy over in China now. Scott, Brian and the gang are still in CT, maybe we can setup a reunion – that would be so cool! my email is if you’re interested.

      Seems his death motivated / inspired all of us in some way….so I feel he lives on through us still….

  9. I just stumbled on this blog and I just have to say BoB was a very close friend of mine and I still to this day celebrate his life like he has never left! Jo if you still read this is would love to get in touch with you! I have so much of his stuff still and I swear my 15 yr old has some part of him in her… Nov 18th was one of the hardest days of my life but just know his memory will never die.

    sincerely his long lost friend from Berlin

    1. hey Samantha,
      wow, thanks for finding this – yes I still think of BoB on the regular – I have your email in the content admin section here – so I’ll send you a private note and hope we can connect….

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